Abbey Shell, LISW

Abbey is a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) in the state of Iowa. Abbey received her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa and her Bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult and Family Services from Iowa State University.

She primarily specializes in working with children, adolescents, and families dealing with a wide variety of mental health issues. Her professional career has involved providing individual, group, and family therapy services to adolescent females in a residential setting. She has also worked with preschool-aged children into school-age with significant trauma histories, including abuse, neglect, removal, foster care placement, adoption, familial substance use, homelessness, and community violence. Treatment and consultation services were provided for these children experiencing anxiety, depression, attention difficulties, limited impulse control, anger, grief and loss, and attachment challenges.

She utilizes various strengths-based techniques and approaches, including, though not limited to, Person-Centered Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Play Therapy and Family Systems.

Abbey has had extensive training in Trauma Informed Care and has focused her professional care on educating others about this organizational structure and treatment framework.

Alyssa Edwards, tLMHC

Alyssa is a Master’s Level Therapist licensed in the state of Iowa as a Temporary Licensed Mental Health Counselor as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois. Alyssa completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2014. After obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree, Alyssa worked as a substitute teacher for ages pre-kindergarten through grade twelve while completing her Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling. During her Master's Degree study, Alyssa worked in group settings with the geriatric population, individual and group settings with college students, and also in a private practice setting with adults and children. Alyssa obtained her Master’s Degree in 2017 and went on to work as a Drug Abuse Therapist until joining Life Connections in 2018. Alyssa provides therapy primarily in the Life Connections Davenport Office.

Alyssa utilizes an eclectic approach to counseling and specializes in selecting the most effective approach for each individual’s needs throughout the therapeutic process. Alyssa utilizes a warm, person-centered, empathetic, and motivational style of communication which assists her clients in feeling heard, understood, and supported in their endeavors. Alyssa is particularly skilled in assisting clients with confronting irrational thinking, coping skills, developing effective communication, self-esteem, and identifying goals to live their best lives. Alyssa enjoys working with many ages, relationships, and supporting those experiencing life changes, grief, and other challenges.

Alyssa Hennings, LMHC

Executive Director of Home & Community Based Services

Clinton, Dubuque
Alyssa Hennings began as a BHIS provider with Life Connections in April of 2014, and transitioned into a therapist role in October of 2016, upon the completion of her Master's program. Alyssa provides individual counseling, couples counseling, and family therapy. She also provides BHIS assessments for children seeking BHIS services.

Alyssa attended Loras College where she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology in 2013. She worked at Hills and Dales residential facility while completing her Bachelor’s degree; working with children with mental and physical health concerns. Alyssa completed her Master's Degree in 2016 from Loras College, where she interned with the State of Iowa Department of Corrections at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

Alyssa utilizes an eclectic theraputic approach, incorporating solution-focused, behavioral, person-centered, and cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches into the theraputic sessions, focusing on the individual needs of each client.

Dennis Baker, LMHC

Dennis received his Bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Carthage College in Kenosha, WI and his Master’s degree in clinical psychology from Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL. Alongside his classes, he studied as a fellow at the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis, received training from the Roosevelt University Mindfulness Initiative, and worked in multiple research labs. He recently joined the Life Connections team after living in Washington State where he worked at a community mental health clinic for four years.

Dennis is trained in multiple therapy modalities, but prefers insight oriented approaches that help clients explore and work with the deeper causes of what is troubling them. Of course this can be challenging work, so he incorporates cognitive-behavioral strategies, relaxation techniques, and education about the brain to help his clients on this path. Dennis works mostly with adults, but also sees children, families, and couples. He has experience helping clients with mood disorders, PTSD, anger management issues, psychotic disorders, and many other mental health challenges.

Devin Dierks, MSW, LISW

Devin graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Psychology and Masters Degree in Social Work. She is licensed in Social Work at the clinical level in both Illinois and Iowa.

Devin is trained to provide Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which focuses on values-based living as well as accepting the ebb and flow of life and the accompanying emotional states that life brings. Devin is also trained to provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She often draws on aspects of all of these modalities to create a customized treatment plan in collaboration with the client.

Devin enjoys working with teens and adults who struggle with emotion regulation.

Elisa Lyons, LMHC

Clinical Director

Cedar Rapids
Elisa started her career with Life Connections in December of 2012, and currently holds the position of Clinical Director of Therapy. She has her License in Mental Health Counseling (LMHC).

Elisa received both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Iowa (Go Hawks!). She majored in Psychology and minored in Sociology, and received her Master’s degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling.

Although trained to work with a wide variety of populations, Elisa particularly enjoys working with children and adolescents. She has clinical experience providing play therapy as a school-based therapist, group therapy, and providing behavioral health intervention services (BHIS). Elisa further has experience in working with children and adults with disabilities, providing direct care and support, facilitating a support group and providing therapeutic services.

Elisa utilizes an individualized, strengths-based approach, and uses techniques from solution-focused, person-centered, cognitive-behavioral, play and art therapies. She has special interest in trauma and abuse, grief and life transitions, and is trained to provide EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

Elisa is available to provide LPHA assessments and therapy services to clients starting at the age of three, with flexible appointment times.

Elise Perea, tLMHC

Tele-Therapist, Cedar Rapids
Elise Perea received her Master’s degree in Community Counseling from Texas A&M University and also has a Master’s of Education from the University of Arkansas. She is a certified teacher with a K-12 lifetime status teaching certificate in the state of Texas. Elise has worked in schools, government agencies, social services, and within the field of career/employment for over 10 years. Elise has utilized technology extensively in previous roles including distance education and virtual coaching. Currently she is putting this experience to work as a Tele-Therapist with Life Connections, where she is available to serve clients all over the state of Iowa.

Elise’s humanistic therapeutic approach comes from a person-centered, strengths-based center with a solution-focused emphasis. She strives to be a part of a caring and compassionate support system designed to help clients reach their personal goals.

Her therapeutic interests include self-esteem, personal change and transition, parenting and parenting children with special needs, stress and anxiety resilience, workplace issues, and working with people challenged with depression.

Elise also has a background in helping people work through barriers to employment. She enjoys being a part of the process to help clients work through explorations of self and identity to find purpose in meaning in life and in career.

Erin Elm, LMSW, DCC

Davenport, Tele-therapy
Erin has her Master’s Degree in Social Work from St. Ambrose University and is licensed by the State of Iowa (LMSW). For her undergraduate degree, she attended Minnesota State University – Mankato where she earned a B.S. in Business Management with a minor in Business Administration. Currently she is working in the Davenport office. Additionally, Erin is credentialed in distance counseling (DCC) and provides services across the State of Iowa with tele-based services. Erin not only provides assessments and therapy, but is also the Director of Tele-Mental Health services for Life Connections.

Erin has spent a large number of years working with children struggling with disabilities. Erin has also trained in, and extensively researched, Trauma Informed Care as well as school based aspects of therapy, such as Response to Intervention and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. While she works well with children ages 3 and up, she is also great at working with adults up to aging populations.

Erin utilizes systems, person-centered and strengths-based approaches as well as motivational interviewing and cognitive-behavioral therapies. Erin has special interests in working with children and adults who are seeking services for behavioral concerns including defiance, depression, anxiety, anger management, communication skills, and self-esteem improvement. Erin has also extensively researched and has personal connections to the LGBTQ+ community and is available to help clients with their gender identity and possible transitions. Erin is available to provide assessments and therapy services to clients of all ages, starting at the age of three.

Erin Hosette, LMHC, NCC

Erin has a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the University of Northern Iowa and a Masters Degree in counseling from Western Illinois University. She has 12 years of experience in the field; spending 10 years working in this community with adults with chronic and severe mental illness. Erin has been working as a mental health counselor for the past 3 years at Robert Young Center, where she shifted her area of focus onto children ages 3-12. She is a registered facilitator of the Circle of Security Parenting Program and has attended various trainings pertaining to mental health throughout her career.

Felicia Pope, tLMHC

Felicia started working for Life Connections April 2018. She has her temporary Licensed Mental Health Counselor license (tLMHC). Felicia received her Master’s in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Community counseling from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She acquired her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater with a double major: Major in Psychology, and a Major in Art drawing studio. Felicia spent her life in Wisconsin and recently moved to Iowa in January 2018.

Felicia has used different counseling techniques, but prefers CBT techniques, mindfulness, and person centered approach, along with motivational interviewing techniques, and guided visual relaxation. Felicia trained with a Psychiatrist at an AODA center in Wisconsin where she was trained on hypnosis techniques. Felicia’s mental health background includes work with adults with disabilities, adults with TBI, adults with substance abuse issues, and teens and families in group therapy and skill building settings.

She worked with adults with disabilities with Mental illness on and off for 7 years. When working with Adults with disabilities she has assisted them with: vocational skills, and training. She also has had experience working with teens in group therapy settings, along with experience in working with families, focusing on behavioral modification techniques, and teaching communication and parenting techniques. Felicia also has experience working with the substance abuse population. One large passion she has is art and working with others through teaching art. Felicia has experience teaching art activities through her volunteer work at St. Colletta in Wisconsin. Felicia has also taught expressing emotions through art in group therapy exercises while working at a AODA clinic in Milwaukee Wisconsin. One project consisted of each person painting their own positive affirmation on a 12x12” pieces of wood, and stringing them all together and hanging them up at the center.

Jackie Lambert, tLMHC

Anamosa, Cedar Rapids
Jackie started her career with Life Connections in June of 2017. She has her temporary license in Mental Health Counseling (tLMHC) and is a National Certified Counselor (NCC). In her current position, Jackie provides therapy for clients in an office setting and at approved schools.

Jackie received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Northern Illinois University in 2013. In 2016, she received her Masters of Counseling from Governors State University in Illinois, specializing in marriage and family counseling.

Jackie works with kids, couples, and families of all ages. She has further experience with kids that have Autism and learning disabilities. She also works with clients that have anxiety, depression, trauma, infidelity, ADHD, suicidal thoughts, and adjustment disorders. Jackie utilizes various techniques including: play therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and person-centered therapy.

Juan Arjona, LMHC

Juan Arjona has a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Psychology from the Catholic University of Santiago del Estero. Juan is originally from Argentina and came to the States three years ago. He is a temporary Licensed Mental Health Counselor (TLMHC) in the State of Iowa. Juan provides therapy in Spanish and English.

Juan obtained a specialization in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT); in therapy, he works together with his clients to find and evaluate dysfunctional thoughts in order to find more realistic, adaptive thoughts that will change emotions and behaviors. Juan uses this method with kids, youth, and adults. In his practice, he is flexible and integrative, constantly adapting to what his patients need.

Juan works with kids and their families, couples, teenagers, and adults who have a variety of mental health concerns such as adjustment disorders, anxiety, depression, lack of motivation or self-esteem, etc.

For Juan, being a therapist is more than a job; it is his vocation. He enjoys working at Life Connections because it is a place that provides resources to individuals and families who are struggling with different situations or problems. By being part of the Life Connections team, Juan is able to make a difference, and he feels a tremendous sense of reward when big or small positive changes occur in the lives of those he serves.

Katie Beckman-Shaull, LMSW

Katie has called Cedar Rapids her home for the past 17 years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree at Mt. Mercy University in Social Work and Minored in Psychology. Katie then went on to earn her Master's in Social Work from St. Ambrose in Davenport, Iowa. Katie worked for The Arc of East Central Iowa for 13 years before coming to Life Connections. She is available to serve clients all over the state with Life Connections’ tele-therapy services.

Katie’s therapy techniques include, but are not limited to solution-focused, cognitive behavioral, strengths based and person centered. She works with what the client's needs are. Although Katie enjoys working with a wide range of populations, she has special interest in working with adults with dual diagnosis.

Katrina Bruns, LMSW

Marshalltown, Story City
Katrina Bruns began working at Life Connections as a mental health therapist in March of 2019. Katrina is a Licensed Master Social Worker. Katrina provides therapy for individuals, couples, and families. She also does mental health and BHIS assessments.

Katrina attended Iowa State University and graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor's of Science in Women & Gender Studies and Sociology and a minor in Spanish. She recieved her Master's of Social Work degree from New Mexico State University in 2017. She was a member of Graduate Student Social Work Association during her time in graduate school.

Katrina works with clients ages 6+ and enjoys working with a diverse caseload. Katrina has experience in treating anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, adjustment disorders and trauma, grief & loss, substance use, and other mental health issues. She utilizes many different interventions including but not limited to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), TF-CBT (Trauma- Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), mindfulness, motivational interviewing, DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), and solution-focused therapy. Katrina is passionate about helping clients reach their goals and therefore focuses on client strengths and helping clients grow as individuals.

Melissa Paulsen, MA, LMFT, RPT

Melissa Paulsen began as a therapist at Life Connections in October of 2014. Melissa is an independently Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She provides individual counseling, couples counseling, and family therapy. She also does assessments for BHIS services. Melissa is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Association for Play Therapy (APT), and is also the Secretary and ​a ​Board Member for the Iowa Association for Play Therapy (IAPT).

Melissa attended Mount Mercy College where she graduated in 2010 with her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and criminal justice while also minoring in sociology. She received her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mount Mercy University in 2012. While in college, Melissa interned for the Sixth Judicial District and worked at Tanager Place in the PMIC facilities.

Melissa specializes in adjustment-related stressors, anxiety, depression, grief and loss, self-harm, and trauma. She works with all populations from as young as three-years-old to the elderly. Melissa is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). TF-CBT is a conjoint child and caregiver psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events. Melissa is also a Registered Play Therapist (T2859) with over 170 hours of play therapy specific training.
Click here to visit Melissa's Wixsite

Meryl Welsh, MA, LMHC, CPDM, CDMS, NCC


Nathan McCarty, LMFT

Dealing with hopelessness, anxiety, and other stressors in daily life can be difficult and sometimes unmanageable. I work with individuals, couples, children, adolescents, and families on coping with and understanding these stressors, as well as managing and overcoming them. My goal is to establish trust and working relationships to educate on the impact in mental health; how to manage stressors, and identify preventative techniques to address those issues.

I am a warm person with a flexible and open mind for helping my clients. I am committed to the growth of my clients, and therefore am growing myself by continually pursuing education and training. As part of my approach, I offer a sliding scale to those who are unable to pay my full rate.

One thing I tell clients is that I am here for you, to work toward goals that you want to work towards, and to use my skills to help facilitate that process. I strive to deeply understand a client's problem and provide guidance and feedback.

Riley Andrews, tLMHC

My name is Riley Andrews and I am a mental health therapist at Life Connections. Before becoming a therapist, I served in the role of behavioral health intervention service provider (BHIS) at Life Connections. This means my practice is well versed in adolescent behavior and family dynamics. In my approach I am flexible and integrative; I adapt to your expressed need through a therapeutic approach that best fits you. Techniques that I implement stem mostly from, but are not limited to, Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, Art-Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Person-Centered Therapy.

I work with kids and their families, couples, teenagers, and adults in a laid back, positive, relaxing environment. If you or a loved one is struggling with behavioral issues, adjustment disorders, anxiety, depression, lack of motivation or self-esteem, or other mental health concerns, I would like to provide my help.

If you are struggling, I would like to partner with you so together we can work on finding a better perspective of your pain, hardship, and concern. Email me or give me a call if you have any questions. Have a great day!

Stephanie Fiser, tLMHC

Stephanie is a Master’s Level Therapist licensed in the State of Iowa as a Temporary Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Stephanie completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2010. After obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree, she worked on a residential unit for children at a local nonprofit organization, working with ages 4-17. During her Master's Degree study, Stephanie worked for a non-profit, was involved in individual settings for vocational rehabilitation, and also in a private practice assisting adults with substance disorders through group and individual settings.

Stephanie has also worked as a Behavioral focused paraeducator for a school district. Stephanie obtained her Master’s Degree in Spring of 2018 and joined Life Connections in 2018. Stephanie provides therapy primarily in the Muscatine office and local schools.

Susan Fletcher, MS, Ed., LMHC, NCC

Anamosa, Cedar Rapids
Susan started her career with Life Connections in May of 2014. She has her License in Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and is a National Certified Counselor (NCC). In her current position, Susan provides therapy for clients in the office setting and at approved schools.

Susan received her Bachelor of Education in Secondary Education from Truman State University (formerly Northeast Missouri State University), Kirksville, Missouri. In 2011, she received her Masters of Science in Education in Community Mental Health Counseling from Western Illinois University.

Specializing in grief and loss issues, including infertility and pregnancy and infant loss, Susan also enjoys working with a variety of clients who experience anxiety, depression, and life transitions. She has a special interest in helping couples who struggle with their relationships and marriage. Along with clinical experience providing play therapy as a school-based therapist, she also has experience in facilitating group therapy.

Susan utilizes an integrated approach when working with individuals, including solution focused and rational emotive behavioral therapies. A family systems approach is utilized when working with families. Susan is available to provide assessments and therapy services to all clients, beginning at age five.